Wayne Rooney's proposed move to China hinges on Jose Mourinho's decision this weekend
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Wayne Rooney's prospects of moving to the Chinese Super League before the close of their transfer window next week could hinge on whether Jose Mourinho includes the Manchester United captain in his squad for Sunday's League Cup final against Southampton.
Mourinho admitted yesterday that he could not guarantee Rooney would still be a United player after next Tuesday, when the Chinese transfer window closes, despite claiming that he would never push him out and wants him to stay.
But Rooney could decide that his interests would be best served by moving to China now - on wages of more than £600,000 a week - as opposed to the summer, if he fails to make Mourinho's 18-man squad for Wembley. That would offer the clearest indication yet that he does not figure prominently in the manager's plans.
Mourinho repeatedly refused to kill off rumours Rooney could leave next week. "You have to ask him," said the United manager when asked if he could end the speculation surrounding the England captain.
"Of course, I can't guarantee (he stays). I cannot guarantee that I'm here next week - how can I guarantee that a player is here next season?
"What I can guarantee is that, if one day Wayne leaves the club, it is not because I want him to leave the club. I would never push a legend of this club to another destiny. You have to ask him if he sees himself staying in the club for the rest of his career or sees himself moving."
Asked again, whether he could guarantee Rooney would still be a United player after the close of the Chinese window, Mourinho added: "It is not a question for me because I am happy to have him. You have to ask him, not me. I was very open with you in the answer. I don't want him to leave."
Mourinho said that Rooney had not travelled to France for the second leg of their Europa League round-of-16 tie in France tonight because he was injured.
Yet, Rooney trained with team-mates yesterday morning and is understood to have also been fit for last Sunday's FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers.
Rooney's last appearance for United came as a half-time substitute against Hull City in the Premier League on February 1 and the player, who has 16 months left on his existing £300,000-a-week contract at Old Trafford, is reluctant to remain a bit-part player after being gradually phased out by Mourinho.
That means a move is very much still on and Rooney has offers worth at least £32m-a-year on the table, with Beijing Guoan, who tried and failed to sign him last summer, and Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao among the clubs interested.
United would stand to receive a substantial fee for the 31-year-old and clear space on the wage bill for summer target Antoine Griezmann.
Mourinho added: "I don't know (if he will be fit for the League Cup final). It was the first time he trained and didn't even train 100pc with the group.
"Yes, he was doing the warm-up and basic things after that but, when the training session was high in intensity, he was not training."
Mourinho also refused to offer an olive branch to Luke Shaw. The former Southampton player has played just once since the end of November and was also not on the plane to France.
The United manager offered a brutally candid explanation, revealing that Shaw had been left out because Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian were all "playing the way I like a full-back to play".
Mourinho added: "Luke has to wait for his chance and work better, knowing that I give nothing for free.
"When I give something to the players it's expensive for them. They have to work really hard every day. They have to play well so he has to wait.
"In this moment he is behind the others. Potentially, he has many things that I like, but potential is one thing and another is on the pitch to express all the qualities that I like a player to express. He has to keep working like (Henrikh) Mkhitaryan (did) for a long time."
"Luke has to wait for his chance, he has to keep getting better and he has to understand I give nothing away for free."
The hat-trick scored by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in last Thursday's first leg against the French meant the second leg barely warranted discussion ahead of tonight. (© Daily Telegraph, London)